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The Baltimore Sun

History Matters: Summer was "new model season" for buggies 100 years ago

100 Years Ago

Close shave

Ad for Laurel store: "Machinery Repairs of all Kinds. Whole and Odd Pieces of Harness, A large Variety. Feds of All Kinds. Special: I have 4 2-horse wagons, 3 inch rim carried over from last year, these I will sell at special bargains to make room for a car load of new buggies unloading now. Something most attractive and very cheap." M .J. Tighe, Laurel, Md.

Summer time must have been the new model season for buggies. Mr. Tighe has a good sales pitch, and if he was around 30 years later he may have still been in the horsepower business with car sales, wooing customers into a new 1942 vehicle. The ad copy wouldn't have to change much: "These I will sell at special bargains to make room for a car load of new Buicks unloading now."

There was also an article about advertising in the Times: "Outdoor Advertising: The argument against bill-board advertising on the grounds that it antagonizes everyone who lies to see handsome streets and beautiful country scenes, has often been insisted on by this newspaper. ...

Bill-board advertising is squarely against the modern tendency in the publicity world. That modern tendency may perhaps best be defined by calling it 'Reason why advertising.' Formerly the advertiser, both in newspaper and billboards, sought by the size of his scream, even by grotesqueness to attract attention. There were flaring pictures, jokes and catch phrases having nothing to do with the merits of the goods. The prevailing type of publicity work for the past few years has lain along the line of appeal to the reader's reason. The idea is to tell the reader as tersely and effectively as possible, the real reasons why the seller of an article claims it is superior."

If the idea is to plant the product's name indelibly in the buyer's brain, I don't know if a sophisticated pitch is always superior to a jaunty jingle, or a perfectly timed and placed gimmick, like the iconic Burma-Shave signs. About 15 years after this billboard controversy, in 1928, Burma-Shave billboard signs came on the scene.

Burma-Shave's thousands of signs were presented in series form along highways, which gave travelers something of interest to view in a time before fast-food restaurants and strip malls lined roadsides. And the idea worked, increasing their sales and making Burma-Shave a hot selling shaving lotion for decades. My own childhood favorite of that series, with Dad at the helm of our family Ford that always ingested black top at warp speed: "Slow down, Pa; sakes alive; Ma missed signs; four; and five; Burma Shave."

75 Years Ago

Fallow funds

Performance In AAA Plan To Be Checked in July: County Farmers Urged To Cooperate With Visiting Men.

"The work of checking performance of farmers taking part in the 1937 Agricultural conservation Program will get under way in Howard County, it is announced by Warren G. Myers, County Agent.

"Performance will be checked by local supervisors who will visit each participating farm to obtain information about what actually has been done by the farmer toward meeting conditions of payment provided in the 1937 program. ... Each farmer will be asked to assist the supervisor who visits his farm by preparing a report of the 1937 farming operations. The report will include a sketch of the farm showing fields, the acreage of crops grown in the fields, the soil (building practices carried out, and the names of person sharing the crops and practices. ... ."

AAA was the Agricultural Adjustment Act, a New Deal program of President Roosevelt's administration. Farmers were paid to leave fields fallow and to kill off livestock. My grandparents killed livestock on their farm under this program, but they did so under protest, so perhaps the "taking part" was not voluntary everywhere, or began as voluntary and later became mandatory.

50 Years Ago

"A one and a two" and a twist

In the "What's Doing" social column: "Jimmy DeleBovi young son of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Delebovi, Brookwood Road, celebrated his birthday at an outdoor party. ... Mr. DeleBovi delighted the children by playing the accordion while they competed with one another in various games and twist contests."

Twisting to accordion music? But accordion playing was popular then, in large part to Lawrence Welk, who played the accordion on his TV show, leading his orchestra with "A one and a two."

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